Shopping for stocking filler that will satisfy even the most jaded rock fan? Look no further than Julian Cope´s latest book Japrocksampler, out now in paperback from Bloomsbury books. Following in the footsteps of his authoritative and now sadly out of print Krautrocksampler tome, which explored the highs and lows of the German music scene in the late sixties and seventies, Cope now looks eastward and lord, it´s a trip. Thoroughly researched, Japrocksampler first puts the whole shebang in historical perspective before going all out with enthousiastic descriptions of the highlights of Nippon rock. And all that in typical, no holds barred Cope stylee of course. Banzai! A lot of the music featured in Japrocksampler - subtitled ´how the post-war Japanese blew their minds on rock ´n´ roll´ - is for freaks only, but believe me, the genre spawned some real boss sounds... Here´s a few of them.
Yup, that´s them ridin´ their chopped-up Hondas bare ass down the highway on the cover of Copey´s book. Destination? Anywhere of course... The semi-legendary Flower Travellin´ Band made at least two great albums: Satori (more about that ´71 gem in an upcoming post) and their debut Anywhere (´70). Led by wild afro´d singer Joe, they managed to demolish quite a few well-known songs on the latter. Check out their amazing Stairway To Heaven-like treatment of ye olde classic House Of The Rising Sun for proof.
Flower Travellin´ Band - House Of The Rising Sun MP3
A glue sniffin´, amphetamine-crazed, longhaired free-blues power trio anyone? All hail Speed, Glue & Shinki. "I got a big headed woman who talks about herself... she drinks all my liquor and she smokes all off my stuff... yeah she smokes all my dope, she´s baaad..." The incredible ´young loud and snotty´ vocals and even snottier asides come courtesy of singing Filipino drummer Joey ´Pepe´ Smith, while we have to thank the great Shinki Chen for the down and dirty soloing. Heavy stuff that´s in heavy rotation around here at the moment.
Speed, Glue & Shinki - Big Headed Woman MP3
According to Julian, we´re not here to praise the aptly named First Album (´69) by the Helpful Soul, as it´s shit. And he´s right. But he goes on to say: ´...which makes side one´s closing song - the 10-minutes-and-33-seconds of Peace For Fools - all the more remarkable´, and he´s spot on again. Cope calls it ´a strung-out slab of monolithic genius´, while comparing singer Junio Nakahara to the Fall´s Mark E. Smith before he became ´a professional Northerner´... And that´s a mighty fine desciption.
The Helpful Soul - Peace For Fools MP3
Les Rallizes Dénudés are a cult band avant la lettre. Hailing from the Kyoto university scene, their destiny was changed abruptly when their original bass player Moriaki Wakabayashi was involved in the infamous hijacking of an airplane by the Japanese Red Army in 1970. Since then, Rallizes mastermind Takashi Mizutani has led a remarkably reclusive life in the isolated wilderness of northern Japan, releasing his dark, feedback-drenched laments mostly via live bootlegs. The Japanese Velvets? Definitely underground and well worth checking out.
Les Rallizes Dénudés - More Deeply Than The Night MP3
Love Live Life +1 (´71) was one of these ´super sessions´ which were huge in Japan in the early seventies. Its legacy? A mighty impressive, soulful album filled to the brim with freaky cosmic rhythm & blues. Title track Love Will Make A Better You makes one think of a Sly & The Family Stone from the land of the rising sun. Dig these horns and way-out-there guitars, brothers and sisters!
Love Live Life +1 - Love Will Make A Better You MP3